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What are some documents you can write prior to writing a TV show script on a weekly basis in order to nail the plot? Sometimes, you don't have time to write the script for the whole season of a TV show, so what documents can you write prior to doing that to nail down the plot so that you don't end up with plot holes, loose ends and being able to also nail the sub plots and the plot for the show so everything is planned out without having all the minor details written down?

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You are looking for something equivalent to a screenplay "beat sheet". Google "beat sheet screenplay" (without the quotes) and pick several links to get familiar with the concept, and see what kind of style and detail you like. I mean the standard story arc (Act I, Act IIa, Act IIb, Act III) is a kind of beat sheet itself; but it helps to break those up into 3 to 5 parts each.

A beat sheet is an outline of the critical moments in a film; turning points, key events, etc. It condenses a 110 pages down into about 1 or 2; some beat sheets recommend twelve beats, others break it down further into 40 beats. For a screenplay 40 beats is nearly a beat per scene. Which you might want.

They contain some description of setting or characters; but you don't have to be creative in the wording; just get the facts across. This is a skeleton that will be filled out with creative specifics later. The description is "Old run down Chicago apartment." Or "luxury resort hotel."

The action is "Karen fights with John over the lost money and walks out, neither knows if they are broken up or not."

That line may translate into 5 pages of script; actions and dialogue to fill in later; we just need to know the emotional overview; this turning point from happy couple to unhappy couple.

In a series, the season presents an overall story arc to complete, so the beat sheet for the season is like that. But each line in this outline will be a paragraph or more about the upshot of an episode, what changed for your characters in this episode? Maybe, "John on business travel cheats on Karen and Karen finds out, she is heartbroken and angry, John doesn't suspect that she knows."

What kind of business travel, the circumstances of the cheating and with whom, a hooker or a co-worker, why John cheats, how Karen finds out, those are problems to solve in the episode. (But if this is a series beat, then obviously John's profession must plausibly require occasional business travel.)

Also, writing this, you ask some basic plot points about the episode. Business prompts John to travel. We need an excuse for Karen to not accompany him. Should we have foreshadowed this travel in the previous episode? Should we introduce the object of his lust earlier, e.g. as a coworker, or somebody Karen knows, or does he discover her on the trip? Do we want a never-seen-again one-night stand, or a continuing point of aggravation and possible future cheating?

Your answers will prompt notes on previous episode beats, or not. We don't want John's cheating to blindside the audience too much, he needs a plausible motivation. Perhaps John and Karen have a lull in their sex life and he is frustrated. Think something up!

Then of course you need a beat sheet for each episode; the number of beats depends on the length of the episode, and how many scenes you have to complete an arc. Plan on a scene taking 1-3 minutes. Here are guidelines on that for a typical screenplay. If time is tight (a half hour episode, about 22 minutes of show, roughly 22 pages of script) then you can use tighter scenes, but the beat sheet remains similar; you are just describing shorter scenes.

Basically your beats end up being scenes, you work out the plot here, make sure things are justified in earlier beats, then flesh out the beats in the scenes.

But don't think of the beat sheet as being written sequentially. They play out sequentially, but you can write them all together, skipping back and forth, hitting major beats first and then filling in what happened in-between, create the links between the beats.

It is more like painting, you don't start at the top inch and then work down the canvas completing inch by inch. You begin with an overall sketch in pencil, modify it and perfect that, then start filling in the details, and the colors.

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